1 Corinthians 2.9

“No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

I spent 3 hours painstakingly painting that verse on a crinkled brown piece of paper I had saved from the wrappings on a bouquet of flowers. The painting didn’t turn out that great. It’s hard to get the letters straight and the same size. And it’s not really bold enough on the wall because I painted the letters too skinny.

But it was good for my heart to slowly write those words. It forced me to think on what they mean.

It’s the end of week 4 of joblessness. 40 applications, 3 interviews, 10 resume drop offs, 3 nanny websites plus craigslist, 200 website checks for new positions, 20 nights sitting home alone.

It’s getting a little old. A little frustrating, a little boring, a little discouraging, a little lonely.

But God says that his plans for me bigger than my imagination. I suppose that means that I could end up with some crazy good job that impacts someone’s life in a huge way. Or that he moves us to some foreign country to do missions. Or that I have an opportunity to take a photography class and somehow become a famous photographer…or writer or crafty person or whatever. Or I suppose it could mean he leads me into some not so great situation that as far as I’m concerned kind of a bummer…but uses it to change lives that I don’t even know about. Whatever it is…I know I can trust him to find me the right job at the right time.

I love him. So in the end of the big picture…I will have an impact that is beyond anything I’ve ever seen, heard of, or even imagined.

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i have no idea what this post is about. i felt the need to be a more consistent blogger…so I opened it up and wrote

The summer has been different. Good different. Also bad different.

Mostly because I transitioned from nannying four hours a day every day; to ten hrs a day, two weeks on, two weeks off. My work days are now opposite of Cody’s, so we essentially don’t see during the week. Which feels completely stupid.

On the other hand, the two weeks off have given me all sorts of time to visit people and be crafty. The craftiness isn’t going quite as I had planned. But the visiting has gone superb. I spent two nights with my dad and baby sisters. Then two nights in my hometown visiting five or so friends and some family too. Then a whopping nine day trip out to Montana to go on vacation with my mom, step-dad, and family, where I contracted the most impressive tan ever. I’ve also had a visit from my grandma, a visit from my mom and sister planned, a hopeful camping trip with my dad and another hometown trip in the works.

It’s been crazy. Which is good. It distracts me from my sad little self…usually. I found myself fighting tears for two days straight while on vacation with my family. Frustrating to say the least…sun, boating, tubing, and sisters should do the trick right? It reminds me that my depression is real. It’s not drama. It’s not overreacting. It’s life and me and my hard thing right now.

I start to feel like there is something wrong with me. I must be brain damaged. Or sick and delusional. Or crazy out of this world selfish. I beg Cody through tears to tell me what’s wrong with me. His answer is always: ‘Nothing. It’s ok for you to feel sad. It’s normal. Stop telling yourself there’s something wrong with you, because there’s not. Everything’s ok. You’re ok and God is good.’ I really should tattoo that on my arm so that the poor guy doesn’t have to repeat it so often. And I hope I figure it out someday for real. I hope it sinks in so that I don’t panic when I can’t reverse my sadness. But for now Cody will just have to repeat it.

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to be real

It has been along time. And my excuses are not that impressive:

I forgot.

I don’t write if I don’t have anything noteworthy to say. Which is a bad habit for any writer. Brilliance doesn’t come when you’re sitting around waiting for it.

I learned that depression is real and not made up by overly dramatic people. One result of continuous bummed-outness is a downward plunge in the desire to be social or communicative…even on blogs.

It’s not necessarily healthy to indulge my tendencies to seclusion; but being depressed doesn’t make it any easier to transform my introvertedness into something social…ish.

I hate admitting my struggle with depression. It’s far from the horrors it could be, and I feel guilty knowing my sadness can’t even compare to degree others suffer from it. Things in my life are actually pretty swell too so it feels like I’m overreacting to nothing. If anything I should be overjoyed with life right now.

But there’s no doubt it’s real. There’s clear moments where I know I’m not being silly, emotional, or exaggerating my feelings. My heart rate goes up, irrational fear fills me, and it feels like I’m watching myself do normal life from a dark dirty corner. Literally.

For years I firmly believed that depression was sin. Black and white. A person saved by Jesus should be constantly ecstatic. He has saved me, loved me, showed me mercy, grace and forgiveness literally without measure. He is so much bigger than my pain or problems. If sadness hits…it seems only true that God’s goodness in me should so dwarf my pain that dwelling on it would be wrong.

And maybe so…

But what about all those times in the Bible where Yahweh himself is sad:

Then the Israelites put aside their foreign gods and served the LORD. And he was grieved by their misery.    Judges 10.16

Oh, how often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved his heart in that dry wasteland.    Psalm 78.40

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.     Ephesians 4.30

Then Jesus wept.     John 11.35

Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it.     Luke 19.41

And being in agony, he prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.     Luke 22.44

Jesus was in such emotional turmoil about what his circumstances that he even asked the Father if there was another way. Jesus was perfect.

God himself is sad and upset by the messed-upness of this world. The people he made in his very own likeness whom he dearly loves and adores live in a chaotic horrific world that leaves them broken at every turn. Not to mention the way we have relentlessly hurt his heart and abused his love many times over.

God knows better than anyone how well things will end. How at the end of it all, his church will be saved, and the world will be as it was supposed to be when it was made. He does not doubt his own plan, goodness, and love. But he’s still sad. The reality of goodness doesn’t mean we have to deny the reality of pain. Both are equally true.

And as far as my own little crying heart goes…that’s pretty much all it has figured out. To not deny the realness of the pain. And to recognize that there are legitimate reasons for sadness and even depression.

Still, joy is a learning curve. It takes practice, choice, and guts. And this I don’t have figured out. I can choose joy…but I squash the sad. Or I give into the sad and can’t choose joy. Both are wrong.

But I realize…I’m excited to learn. It may take years and years. But my Savior will not leave me treading water. He will teach me how to balance grief and joy and I will know him better for experiencing both.

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…cody still holds true to his promise to never let me go a day without flowers . it’s 2 1/2 years…

heaven

If you think about it honestly…who really wants to sing to harp music and be blinded by golden streets for eternity. It’s definitely better than the other option but still…as much as I am ecstatic be with Jesus, I will admit the traditional picture of heaven gives me the yawns.

I really don’t think this is what heaven will be like at all. God created us with the built in desire to create, imagine, work, and socialize. This was part of life before things went wrong in the beginning, and I’m fairly certain these human traits won’t just vanish in the end either.

I’ve always imagined heaven more like C.S. Lewis describes it in the last Narnia book. Narnia heaven has the same geography as the old Narnia…everything is just so much magnificently better! Who knows what it will exactly be like. But I’m fairly certain that when Christ comes back to establish his perfect kingdom…it’s going to look like he intended it to look like in the beginning: his people living in unity creating and working and building for him. Only this time we won’t have the option to mess it up.

moved

We are officially big city people. We moved across the river, North Portlandia is our home. And to be honest I feel more at home here. We are three blocks from a street crammed with freaky-good restaurants, bike shops, music stores, a children’s book store, coffee, tea, crafty things, a market. We are surrounded by hipsters, hippies, college folk, crazy bikers, make your own beer dudes, weirdos with a little b.o., kiddos wearing clothes I want, the use your own grocery bag type humans, bearded beanie-wearing homegrown organic types, the happy, sad, messed up, and torn, biking their way through rain and life with no purpose folks.

And if multiple denied apartment applications give any hint of where God wants us…this must be it. Now, to bring a bit of Jesus to this place.

hosea

‘How can I give you up, O Ephraim?

How can I hand you over, O Israel?

How can I make you like Admah?

How can I treat you like Zeboiim?

My heart recoils within me;

my compassion grows warm and tender.

I will not execute my burning anger;

for I will not again destroy Ephraim;

for I am God and not a man,

the Holy One in your midst,

and I will not come in wrath.’

Hosea 10.8-9

So often I think of Yahweh as a justice first God. Zapping people with wrath. And when he does choose mercy it’s only because his nice side is required to show itself every so often. Not so much because he has real compassion in his heart.

In short…I assume he’s me. Someone messes with how I want life to work and…bam…I’m upset. Then I talk myself down and make up 5 reasons to excuse the behavior. The anger isn’t true justice. And getting myself over it isn’t true mercy.

God’s not me. His wrath is just and deserved, and often dealt after mercy. And his mercy is genuine. It’s born out of his compassion broken heart–which is his default.

god

God defined by God:

‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.’

{exodus 34.6-7}

God’s writing

‘Don’t you think it’s rather nice to think that we’re in a book that God’s writing? If I were writing a book, I might make mistakes. But God knows how to make the story end just right–in the way that’s best for us.’

‘Do you really believe that, Mother?’ Peter asked quietly.

‘Yes,’ she said, ‘I do believe it–almost always–except when I’m so sad that I can’t believe anything. But even when I don’t believe it, I know it’s true–and I try to believe it.’

Edith Nesbit
The Railway Children